Almond Apricot Bread
This is a delicious Almond Apricot Bread using yeast, with a tasty filling of apricot preserves, ground almonds flavored with lemon juice and just enough sugar to make it sweet.
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
2/3 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup finely snipped dried apricots
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
In a large mixing bowl stir together 1-1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Set flour mixture aside.
In a medium saucepan heat and stir the milk, the 1/4-cup sugar, butter, and salt just until warm (120 to 130-degrees) and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Separate one of the eggs (reserve and chill egg white add two of the whole eggs and the egg yolk to the milk-flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed 30 seconds, scraping side of the bowl. Beat on high speed three minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in lemon peel and as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (six to eight minutes total). Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (1 to 1-1/2 hours).
For filling, in a small saucepan heat apricot preserves just until melted.Remove from heat and stir in the almonds, apricots, the 3-tablespoons sugar, the reserved egg white, and lemon juice; set aside.
Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface Divide dough in half. Cover and let rest for ten minutes.
In a small mixing bowl use a fork to beat the remaining whole egg and the water. Set aside.
Roll each half of the dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle into three 10 x 4-inch strips (six strips total). Spread 3 tablespoons of the apricot filling down the center of each strip. Brush edges of the rectangles with some of the egg mixture. Fold long sides of dough over filling. Press edges to seal.
To shape the bread, place three filled ropes, seam sides down, 1-inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Starting in the middle, loosely braid the ropes by bringing the left rope underneath the center rope; lay it down. Bring the right rope under the new center rope; lay it down. Repeat to end. On the other end, braid by bringing outside ropes alternately over center rope to the center. Press ends together to seal. Tuck ends under. Braid the remaining three ropes on another lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (45 to 60 minutes).
Brush loaves with some more of the egg mixture. Bake in a 350-degree. oven about 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. (If necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.) Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.
Recipe Make-Ahead Tip
Prepare and bake bread as directed; cool completely. Place loaves in an airtight container or bag and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Or place bread in a freezer container or bag and freeze for up to three months.
Before serving, thaw bread at room temperature for two to three hours.